Ethiopia’s military is taking offensive measures against bandits who are responsible for massacring more than 200 civilians in a troubled Metekel Zone of the Benishangul-Gumuz region, a senior military officer has said.
Lieutenant General Asrat Denero, who is in charge of the law enforcement operation in the region on Friday said the Ethiopian Defence Force has destroyed several anti-peace forces and captured many others who attacked civilians in multiple zones of the region.
Contests over land and resources in Benishangul-Gumuz are believed to spur violence between ethnic groups, and last week’s massacre was just the latest gruesome atrocity in the region in recent months.
Ethnic violence has been a persistent problem since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018 on the back of popular protests. Ethnic Amhara, Agew, Shinasha people have been victims of a series of ethnic-based attacks in the region.
Last week, the gunmen committed atrocities in Bulen and Bekoji districts of the regional state where they also looted and burnt properties belonging to ethnic Amhara and Agew people.
According to the General, legal and political measures are being taken against the regional officials who were suspected of leading and coordinating the attacks as well as due to negligence.
General Asrat did not specify the number of gunmen killed or captured.
A national task force established by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is undertaking security enforcement operations in the Metekel Zone following the killing of some 207 innocent people in Metekel zone.
Apart from the failure to enforce the rule of law and protect civilians in three districts of Metekel Zone, the government had been criticized for failing to name the series of attacks in Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz as ethnic cleansing against Amhara and Agaw people.